Sully Bright Lights

The bright lights have not been so kind to Sully. Since transplanting to Toronto several years ago, the ex-Ottawa band has undergone some extreme high and lows - from a deal with Nettwerk Records and reviews in Rolling Stone to being unceremoniously dropped by the label and losing a couple members. But the turmoil has informed their creative process, dousing Bright Lights in melancholy popscapes. "The thing about the last album was we worked with a producer who changed our sound a little bit, altered it in a way we wouldn't necessarily have done on our own," says lead singer Becke Gainforth of 1998's electronica-influenced I Have Much to Report. "But we were a little naïve back then. 'Sure, that sounds great, do that.' This album was entirely done by us; it's not electronic at all. There are still keyboards but there's no cheesy remixes at the end like on our last album. What a nightmare." While Gainforth's voice continues to embody the adjective ethereal, the end result is a return to the poppier sounds of the first album, with less of an experimental vibe. Nevertheless, jumping off the electronic bandwagon has given Sully a refreshing sound, one that contrasts its traditional pop structure with a tangible layer of sadness. This dichotomy runs from the edgy blow-off "Inside From the Outside" to the lush yet skittery ballad "Touchin'" and peaking on "Weightless," a transcendent keyboard-driven lament that invokes Stereolab in its warm clarity. Although they've gone back to releasing their albums independently, the consistently high quality level ensures the bright lights will once again shine on Sully. (Independent)